My passenger for the day was Tom McNicholas, AKA The Micro Pilot. We filed our flight plan using SkyDemon at least an hour before departure. Many people have asked me to show this process in my videos, but there really is nothing to it if you use an app like SkyDemon. Obviously, if you want to file your plan manually, or using AFPEX or another provider, then you’ll need to read up on how to do it. I have an AFPEX account, and have filed flight plans using it before, but it’s not so easy to cancel or delay them unless you have your laptop with you, since AFPEX (as far as I know) doesn’t run on a smart phone or tablet.
In order to file your flight plan using SkyDemon, you’ll need to set up your aircraft profile properly, detailing the equipment on board, but once this is done, SkyDemon does the rest for you. You can now delay and cancel your flight plan from within the app.
Our routing was EGKR – LAVRI – TEVMO – KONAN – KOK – EBOS
We had to avoid some restricted airspace which was active just off the coast to the south west of Belgium.
We asked London Information if they could coordinate a clearance with Ostend to enter their class C TMA at KONAN, but we were asked to freecall Ostend 10nm before reaching the FIR boundary. Getting the clearance from Ostend was very straightforward, although I struggled to understand the controller, because of the accent, combined with the aircraft noise. They appeared to take a very relaxed approach to controlled airspace clearance compared with controllers in the UK.
We were given a straight-in approach to runway 08 at Ostend, which we positioned for as soon as we were clear of the restricted airspace. You can see the GPS flight track here.
We followed a ‘follow-me’ vehicle to Apron 3 at Ostend, and once we had disembarked, were taken through what appeared to be a building site to a portacabin with a security scanner, where our bags were x-rayed. A minibus then took us to the main terminal where our passports were checked. We passed through the near-deserted arrivals hall to exit onto the airport forecourt. Our plan was to have lunch in Bruges, so from the forecourt we boarded a number 6 bus to Ostend railway station. A single ticket cost us €3, and the bus journey took approximately 20 minutes. The return train ticket to Bruges cost €8.60, and also took 20 minutes. Central Bruges was only 15 minutes walk from the train station.
We didn’t have long in Bruges – enough time for lunch and a short stroll – because we left a little later than planned, and Redhill closed at 1900. For the return flight, we had to submit our GAR (general declaration form) for the UK border force, 4 hours before our arrival. Once again, I use SkyDemon for this, and it really is very straightforward. You’ll need passport details, and addresses for you and your passengers. The return flight was just as enjoyable.
I hope you enjoy my video from this flight below. If you’d like to watch the full, unedited, return flight, you can subscribe as a supporter here to access this bonus content.
Video: Redhill to Bruges (via Ostend) in my PA28